• WHP Lesson 45: The Past and the Future

    One of our goals in learning about history is to make it “usable.” In other words, how can we take what we’ve learned about the past and apply it to today, or even to the future? Today, you’ll think about what you’ve learned in the course to make some predictions about what will be happening in the world in 2050.


    Driving Question: What do you think the world will look…

    • 22 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 44: Globalization: The Downsides

    Globalization has distanced us from each other almost as much as it has connected us. It has meant the substitution of processed food for fresh, and digital experience for lived experience. Families have seen increased freedom, but also increased divorce. Trade now accounts for almost half of the world’s GDP. As a result, it is easier than ever to get flowers in winter but what about the environmental impact of getting…

    • 21 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 43: Globalization and You

    It’s easy to forget the role we each play in the global economy. Even something as seemingly simple as a t-shirt represents the ways in which the production and distribution of everyday goods connects us as consumers to global economic networks. While long-distance trade and economic interdependence are not new in human history, the scale of trade during the era of globalization has increased more dramatically than ever…

    • 20 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 42: Introduction to Globalization

    Globalization refers to how the world has become more connected economically, politically, socially, and culturally over time. Although this has been happening for a long time, the last fifty years or so have been an era of intense globalization. We communicate with each other rapidly. Some events or changes in one part of the world affect people everywhere. The results have been very positive in some cases, but in other…

    • 19 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 41: End of Empire and Cold War

    Both the Cold War and the fall of great empires began even before the last shots of the Second World War were fired. The 1940s and 1950s saw a series of increasingly tense confrontations between Western and communist governments. These confrontations were tangled together with the struggles of colonized people to win independence. By the 1960s, both trends were in full swing. The entangled struggles of the Cold War and…

    • 18 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 40: The Holocaust

    The Holocaust was the horrific murder of millions of Jews and other persecuted groups in Nazi-occupied areas of Europe during the Second World War. Fascist ideas applied to age-old hatreds convinced many people— including ordinary Europeans—to commit horrendous acts. The Nazis justified such extreme violence using the promise of empire, a pure race, and imagined victimhood. The result was a tragedy of unprecedented scale…

    • 15 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 39: World War II

    World War II is generally considered the most devastating global conflict in history. But it is also considered a “good war.” How can both of these things be true? This video will help us understand these descriptions of the Second World War.


    Driving Question: Was the Second World War a good war and a war for democracy?

    • Wars are messy things. We like to think of them as being the good…
    • 14 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 38: Interwar

    Today, we call the period from 1919 to the late 1930s “the interwar period.” The bitterness felt by many nations after World War I helped cause the deadliest war in human history. In the lead up to that new war, the Great Depression devastated nearly all the world’s economies. The hope in the 1920s that internationalism could save the future from war quickly faded in the 1930s, as economic collapse led to the rise of…

    • 13 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 37: World War I

    Historians don’t agree on one definitive cause of the First World War. There were a lot of different factors at play. Perhaps the most common explanation was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But other historians point to deeper, systemic factors that led the world to war, such as alliance systems, nationalism, and imperialism. And still other historians argue that the war was an accident of catastrophic…

    • 12 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 36: The Great Convergence and Divergence

    The First World War (1914-1918) came at the end of a complex era. The long nineteenth century had seen the rise of democracies, increased economic production, and reforms, but also empire, racism, and terrible poverty. The years since the war have been similarly complicated. In the last century, we have seen another world war and a great deal of suffering. But, there’s also evidence that things are getting better. What…

    • 11 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 35: Capitalism and Socialism

    Capitalism and socialism are competing ideas about how we should organize our economies. They grew during this time period, and there are both fans and critics of each of these systems.


    Driving Question: What are capitalism and socialism? 

    • Capitalism is based on the idea that everyone has the right to buy and sell things. This means the government is not overly involved in this system, and as part…
    • 8 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 34: Imperialism and Colonialism

    Imperialism—the system in which the powerful controlled the weak—remained in place during this time period. Power was increasingly about the production and distribution of the many new industrial products we didn’t know we needed. Colonialism and the exploitation of communities large and small in service of industrial production is a big part of this story.


    Driving Question: What…

    • 7 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 33: The Industrial Revolution

    The Industrial Revolution began in 1750 when a shortage of wood and an abundance of coal deposits in Great Britain created a new reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooking. British engineers discovered that they could also burn coal to make steam to power machines, ships, and trains. While this industrialization started in Britain, it eventually spread around the world.


    Driving Question: What…

    • 6 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 32: Political Revolutions

    You’ve probably noticed that the word “revolution” is loosely applied to just about any aspect of life that undergoes a big change. However, politics in the long nineteenth century certainly deserves this label.


    Driving Question:  What caused political revolutions of the long nineteenth century?

    • One way of tracking change over the long nineteenth century is to look at the political…
    • 5 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 31: The Long Nineteenth Century

    You might expect a 164-year period called “the long nineteenth century” to feel like a long time. But democracy, industry, imperialism, and a growing human population meant change was happening more rapidly than ever before.


    Driving Question: Why do we call the time period from 1750-1914 the “long nineteenth century?

    • A century is only 100 years, but what we refer to as the…
    • 4 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 30: New Economic Systems

    Old ideas like credit got a reboot in Era 5. Along with some other financial innovations, credit really changed the way the European economy worked. Building on ideas from the Islamic world and India, Europeans created new economic systems which allowed for efficient trade. These systems helped Europeans run new empires pretty much as businesses, which contributed to the rise of capitalism, the middle class, and even…

    • 1 May 2020
  • WHP Lesson 29: The Transatlantic Slave Trade

    Slavery has existed since some of the earliest human societies, but the transatlantic slave trade was unprecedented in its scale and violence. Rather than being part of a different social class, enslaved people were considered property. This was justified using ideas about race and religion, but the motives fueling the trade were mainly European economic interests. Looking for sources of inexpensive labor to produce cash…

    • 30 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 28: The Columbian Exchange

    Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the Americas created new pathways of exchange between Afro-Eurasia and the Americas—for better or for worse. These exchanges gave the Irish potatoes and the Italians tomatoes, but also led to diseases and invasive species that decimated populations in the Americas. Overall, the global population rose, but for many communities on both sides of the Atlantic, the Columbian Exchange was a…

    • 29 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 27: The Mongols

    There are many different stories people tell about the Mongols. These stories are partially true, but also incomplete. While the Mongols were tough, mobile warriors, and were brutal at times, they were also incredibly adaptive, tolerant, egalitarian, and creative. With some clever political organization and some quick adaptations along the way, the Mongols were able to build a massive empire. While it didn’t last very…

    • 28 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 26: The First Global Age

    The first truly Global Age—full of both prosperity and tragedy—forever altered the course of human history. The already massive, complex trading systems within the Americas and Afro-Eurasia became linked by the Columbian Exchange, creating a network that could carry goods, people, ideas, and germs from one point on Earth to almost any other point.


    Driving Question: How did the first global…

    • 27 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 25: The Dark Ages Debate

    We think the “The Dark Ages” has a branding problem, as historians have long debated how the Middle Ages in Europe should be characterized. The sun shone as brightly then as it does now, but the number of surviving sources that could tell us about people’s everyday lives are far fewer than in earlier and later periods.


    Driving Question: Was there really a “dark age”? …

    • 24 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 24: The Islamic World

    As the Islamic belief system spread beyond the borders of a single state, Muslims moved around as religious pilgrims, as missionaries, and traders. Islamic societies occupied territory at the crossroads of Afro-Eurasian trade, and Islam was a portable congregational religion well designed for movement and commerce. The result was a network that moved ideas and technologies as well as goods, a network which we know today…

    • 23 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 23: How Societies ‘Choose’ to Fail or Succeed

    Sometimes things go wrong. Empires fall and societies collapse. But how this happens may have been up to each society. In other words, were empires and societies pushed, or did they jump?


    Driving Question: Why do complex societies collapse?

    • Today we are extending our study of collapse beyond empires, because the collapse of complex societies is pretty frequent throughout history. A leading historian…
    • 22 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 22: Fall of Rome & Han

    All empires eventually fall, or at a minimum are radically altered into someone else’s idea of an empire. Two of history’s most fascinating empires, China’s Han dynasty in the east and the Roman Empire in the west, left lasting influences on the world that are still felt today. Why, then, were they “cancelled”?


    Driving Question: Why did the Roman Empire and the Han dynasty…

    • 21 Apr 2020
  • WHP Lesson 21: Collapse or Restructuring?

    In this era, we learn that both states and networks can collapse—and frequently did! Collapse could occur for many reasons. It could be brief and insignificant, or it could dramatically change people’s lives for a long time. When recovery happened, the new communities and networks often looked quite different. So, recovery could also involve restructuring.


    Driving Question: Do empires…

    • 20 Apr 2020